The situation in the Philippines is worsening as relief groups struggle to get much needed aid to those affected by typhoon Haiyan. Officials warn the body count could rise sharply past the estimated 10,000, with aid workers revealing many of the victims are children.
- Photo: Reuters
Bodies continue to line the streets and fill other makeshift morgues as funeral home are inundated with dead bodies as reports spread of churches and other buildings being used to store victims' bodies.
As relief efforts begin in earnest focus shifts to limiting the spread of disease as locals in the hardest hit area scavenge for food, water and medicine.
Sadly reports from relief workers dispatched to the region say many of the victims are children with one eyewitnesses revealing two out of five victims is a child.
"We are witnessing the complete devastation of a city. In Tacloban everything is flattened. Bodies litter the street, many, many of which are children. From what I saw, two out of every five bodies was that of a child. Lynette Lim, of Save the Children, told AFP.
"Children are particularly vulnerable in disasters. We fear for how many children have been washed away in floods, crushed under falling buildings and injured by flying debris," she added. "Many are separated from their families amid the devastation, and all are in desperate need of food, water and shelter."
It is estimated that as many as 25 million people are affected, with local reports describing houses damaged, large trees uprooted, after a storm surge of over 20 feet pushed on shore with winds reaching over 200 mph. An estimated 500,000 have been left homeless after their houses were reduced to splinters.
"There's an awful lot of casualties, a lot of people dead all over the place, a lot of destruction," Richard Gordon, head of the Philippine Red Cross, told the BBC. "It's absolute bedlam right now, but hopefully it will turn out better as more and more supplies get into the area."
Super-typhoon Haiyan struck with such force on Friday that entire villages were flattened, ships were swept inland and corpses were left hanging from trees.
With communication and power outages across the region, relief efforts are slowly materializing and it could be weeks before the full extent of the damage is known. Landslides and fallen trees are also obstructing relief workers from delivering food and other supplies.
Christians in the United States are readying supplies to be shipped to the most needed areas including Springfield, Mo.-based Convoy of Hope which has sent four shipping containers to the Philippines, and is preparing to send more.
"We are working with our contacts and partners on several islands," says Kary Kingsland, senior vice president of Global Initiatives for Convoy of Hope, in a statement. "That will help expedite the delivery of relief to survivors."